Whenever I’m in the US in December – when the boys are training – I’ve noticed in searching for Christmas cards that Hallmark has almost exclusively cornered the market over there.
They sell cards for every occasion and to appeal to people from every walk of life.
Until this week, I hadn’t realised they also have a TV channel. That came to my attention when I heard of their disastrous handling of a same-sex ad shown on their cable network to promote Zola, a wedding planning site.
It seems the ad, showing two women getting married, upset a conservative group, causing Hallmark to withdraw it. What they then faced was an even bigger backlash and calls for a boycott over that decision. Then Hallmark CEO Mike Perry said that was “the wrong decision” and reinstated the advert. This sorry episode is so typical of what happens today in an age where, through social media, everyone has a voice.
It means a minority view can garner a great deal of attention and, in this case, Hallmark jumped ship too soon.
With so many ready to be offended at the drop of a hat, Hallmark should have anticipated there would be a bit of noise around an ad showing a same-sex wedding.
They should have had the courage of their convictions.
They should have also been ready with their response.
Instead, they swayed one way in reaction to a minority, only to sway the other when the majority made their feelings known. Hallmark is a company which makes large amounts of money printing cards for different sectors of society and you just can’t have it both ways.
You either believe in equality or you don’t, and if you choose the cowardly route to appease a minority then you’d better be prepared for a backlash.
That said, catering for a large range of views and cultures is never easy. I have a friend who teaches in a school where there are 41 nationalities, presenting daily challenges around culture and language. Generally the kids adapt easily but the parents don’t necessarily and that can create difficulties for teachers. In the end, they have to do what’s best for the majority.
In Birmingham there’s an injunction preventing parents holding protests against LGBTQ lessons outside a school. Ultimately, if parents have a beef with a decision, they should air it with the education authority instead of protesting.
You’re always going to get individuals who don’t agree with the majority view on issues.
But we live in a democracy built on equality and tolerance, and our education system rightly reflects that – as should every aspect of our society from media and politics to big business.